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Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi
 
Producer: Rangita Pritish Nandy
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Shiney Ahuja, Chitrangda Singh, Kay Kay Menon, Ram Kapoor
Music: Shantanu Moitra
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: General
Approximate Running Time: 2 hrs
Film Released on: 2006
Reviewed by: Ron Ahluwalia  - Rating: 10.0 / 10
 
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Public Rating Average: 5.14 / 10 (rated by 413 viewers)
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From the man who directed cinematic blasphemies like Chameli and Calcutta Mail comes the best movie in Indian history: Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi. Against the backdrop of the tumultuous aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Sudhir Mishra chronicles an enigmatic and provocative love story like nothing Bollywood has ever seen. Matters of the heart vis-Ă -vis matters of the state are executed through the divine harmonisation of intelligence, creativity and passion.

Mishra pays homage to a generation of intrigue, perseverance, devotion, unapologetic for who it is and fearless of the consequences—sentiments that have undergone significant erosion amongst modern youth. This generation, obscured by the paradigm shift in India’s socio-political structure, is alluring because of, not in spite of, its vices—the very qualities they so displayed with unwavering confidence.

But more importantly, Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi takes a tough look at a realm of Indian society that is seldom the subject of non-escapist objectivity: politics. The past took with it the false sense of security of the British Raj; the aspiration of an India newly anointed with independence was Nehruvian socialism, while there were those in the shadows that gradually brought to the forefront their conquering views of capitalism. With incomparable genius, Mishra weaves his avant-garde political saga into a love rectangle about the life of his heroine.

Kay Kay Menon plays the “walking paradox” Siddharth Tyabhji, the product of a Muslim father and Hindu mother. None of Siddharth’s surrounding societies, Hindu, Muslim, or affluent Liberalism, suit his aggression and passion for the communist cause. His soul, in self-imposed exile from the societies in which he was raised, finds solace in a clique of youth with a similar sense of disconnect from the surroundings created by their families.

In this clique, he befriends Vikram (Roshan “Shiney” Ahuja), a Punjabi desperate on dissociating from the aura of his idealistic father and the label of “middle class”. His charisma charms one and all, proving to be an indispensable trait in his rise to fame and fortune. His suave diplomacy allows him to engage in political band-wagon jumping while never relinquishing his previous ties. However, this quintessential socialite has but one poison: Gita Rao.

Gita (Chitrangda Singh) is the nexus between Siddharth and Vikram—the love of both their lives. But Siddharth is the man for Gita. His fervour for all that he stands for and his sexual prowess make him irresistible. Even after her marriage to London-based tycoon Arun Mehta (Ram Kapoor), Gita continues to have an intermittent affair with Siddharth. Coming from a traditional family in Andhra Pradesh, Gita’s education at Oxford University moulded her into a true Renaissance woman, uncompromising, immensely adaptive, and sexually and mentally liberated. Her only true failure is the inability to become Siddharth’s number one priority, playing second fiddle to his political rebellion. Thus, she marries Arun upon Siddharth’s translocation to a remote Bihari village.

Despite his obvious jealousy Vikram remains in the background, always the true friend to both Gita and Siddharth, a trait that carries Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi to a profound conclusion that speaks volumes of the corruption and the need for education of the populous for effective political reform.

Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi is the product of master craftsmanship, easily thought to be adapted from a novel of high acclaim. But that is what accentuates the film’s impact. In this age of pathetic Hollywood remakes, this burst of originality makes one acknowledge and respect the talent the Indian Film Industry still has to offer. Shiv Kumar Subramanium and Ruchi Narain penned the screenplay with Mishra and the sequences and chronology are flawless. The viewer is finally privy to a film that lets him/her to determine the significance of events, making links between the scenes and the untold segments of the characters’ lives; of course, there is complete reliance on the insightful and occasionally witty dialogue by

The coupling of an Oscar-calibre screenplay with the directorial skills of Sudhir Mishra is utter magic. Mishra succeeds in establishing the correct ambiance for each scene. Moreover, his interpretation of the screenplay leads to the perfect execution of every scene.

Every second of Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi is vital to the success of the film as a whole; the editing is outstanding. Swanand Kirkire’s background score comes across so naturally on screen, as though no other set of music will do. His emerging presence in the musical realm of Bollywood is well-deserved. The film’s jaded look completes the authenticity of the enterprise—the slight “home movie” appearance incorporates the viewer into the lives of the main players.

And the main plays are indeed superior to their contemporaries. Kay Kay Menon has substantiated his prowess with every performance, but his portrayal of Siddharth is beyond anything imaginable from this gifted thespian. His screen presence is riveting and his understanding of his role is exemplary—but Kay Kay always gets that right.

The importance of Ram Kapoor’s role cannot be disregarded because of its length. His representation of the British Raj is most appropriate; as a member of the British Commnwealth, India is entitled to certain loyalties from London but those friendly with India do not necessarily receive the same services. This is a theme exclaimed not only through the character’s interactions with Gita, but through Kapoor’s laudable histrionics as well.

Chitrangda Singh’s character and performance are not like anything ever seen. So much power, liberation, anguish, and love is emitted from Singh very presence. Her natural beauty is captivating and an appropriate motivation for her co-stars. Singh’s comprehension of human emotions and her deliverance of dialogue is awe-inspiring. And this is only her first film.

To steal the show in a film as brilliant as Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi speaks volumes of Shiney Ahuja as an actor. He commands every scene, even in scenes in which his prominence might be marginalised. His command of Hindi, English, and Punjabi is refreshing and his talent is unmatched (Menon is a very close second, but there is no third for miles). The role of Vikram gives Shiney the opportunity to try so many different emotions and motivations, and his ability to flourish in every one is simply amazing. Shiney is the kind of actor who will go far in both artistic and commercial cinema (which is just great for the audiences).

Such unadulterated cinema is hard to come by. In a year that has given us stellar movies like My Brother Nikhil, Iqbal, Water, Sarkar and Black, Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi proves itself to be beyond its competition. However, the sad reality is that India’s eternal obsession with low quality, over-acted, poorly-scripted escapism will undermine this film’s importance in the world of cinema and social reform. Nonetheless, a salute of gratitude and respect is in order for the entire team of Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi; to a thousand movies like this more…

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